Week 77: "Why are you grateful for church?"

There are so many reasons why I’m grateful for church! I love thinking of church as a complete idea. We have everything we need for a living, vibrant church outlined in our simple governing document, the Church Manual. Mrs. Eddy provided inspired guidance for everything from individual growth, instruction, and healing to sharing more widely with our neighbors and communities what we love about Christian Science. — TORI

One thing I’ve been more grateful for lately is the soulful beauty of a good example, especially in my broad church family.  I don’t necessarily mean perfect, upright people, but individuals simply shining with the unselfish goodness of God, unselfconscious, honest, pure. At first, I saw this in the more obvious examples in my life, but then my awareness started spreading more spontaneously. I began seeing rich, glimmers of God in my sisters and brothers in all directions—a perfectly humble response in the face of irritation, gentle kindness toward an older family member when no one was watching, careful devotion to an inglorious task. I realized how little I see, perhaps how little I wanted to see. So grateful for the gift of wanting to see more Soul because of the beautiful examples in my church community and beyond.  —BILL

How do I begin sharing gratitude for the “structure of Truth and Love?” It brings structure to my life every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Seriously though, I joined The Mother Church when I was 12, and then the branch church I grew up in when I was 20, so I could teach Sunday School. Church has never been far from my prayers, thought, and activity. I’m grateful for the richness this has brought into my life. Specifically as I’m thinking about it now, I’m exceedingly grateful for the Sunday School — for my Sunday School teachers who were devoted and inspired, and now for all the years I’ve loved teaching Sunday School, as well as for present Sunday School teachers throughout the world. Church membership isn’t without it’s challenges, and for the growth and the lessons learned while being a member of various branch churches,I will be forever grateful. I’m not sure how else I would have learned some of the lessons I have – like how to really listening to others, how to better communicate, how to pray and yield to that structure of Truth and Love, how to forgive myself and others, learning to listen so I know when to talk and when not to talk, and most of all – how to trust that there is one Mind when all the members have a different idea of what the answer is! (I’m sure I’ll continue to get better at that one.) This love for church connects me to the community as I feel grounded on the rock of Christ, in that structure of Truth and Love.  —MARCIA

There was a time when I took the support that a branch church provides for granted. Fortunately, church was there for me when I needed it most. When, as a young graduate student, I found my world rocked by several challenging experiences, it was the loving comfort and gentle care from the members of a local branch church that helped me realize I was not alone, and to begin moving forward again. My deep appreciation for that particular church led me to become a branch church member for the first time. And, although I’ve since moved to various new locations, the experience left me with a deep sense of appreciation for the true significance of branch churches: to be a “gentle beam of living Love” in a community (Christian Science Hymnal, Hymn 23). —INGE

Church is always there for me—and you—and is a place where I can go to commune with God anytime. One of my favorite things about church is the quiet, reflection time one-on-one with God. No matter what may be going on in my life, I know I can find Church anywhere I am—whether it’s at work or at the dinner table at home. What a comforting idea! —AMY

One of the most rewarding parts of being a branch church member is the profound experience of sharing Christian Science in jails. So many times this idea has been expressed by inmates: "Time is here to get to know God better and the Bible Lesson Sermons are helping me do that.” One took the cover of a Christian Science Sentinel and stuck it up on the wall (with toothpaste) so when he awakes his first view is of a beautiful field. Another said, " God is Father, but where is the Mother?" After the church service he appreciated Christian Science teachings that God is our heavenly Father-Mother God. In Matt. 25:36 Jesus parable tells us, "I was in prison,and you visited me" (New Living Translation). The rewards of striving to follow Christ Jesus is holy joy. I wish you could see the way our literature is hugged. Please keep up the wonderful work you're doing and the lovely pictures on the covers that embrace us with noble Soul-filled ideas. —LYNNE

  1. In a word, columns.
    The spiritual idea of Church has often been expressed by using classical architectural designs that frequently include columns. Columns express many qualities. They are beautiful, solid, mathematical structural elements. They are silent sentinels that inspire thoughts of simplicity, strength, beauty, trustworthiness and more in all who pass through and by. Church columns, to me, represent the congregation.

    To explain here is a tale that to read: http://goo.gl/RVJcC

  2. I miss Brad Thurber’s comments.

  3. Church has been a lifeline for me to God. Many times I have entered church with some heaviness of heart, but something in the church service – the readings, a hymn, just feeling the presence of Love – has lifted my thought above the issue and I have walked out the door refreshed. Church is the “structure of Truth and Love”, and we can rejoice in its healing demonstrations of the Christ, Truth.

  4. It is always the sheer, unedited word of God beaming across the globe, loud and clear with the power of the Almighty behind it, accomplishing HIS PURPOSE. I LOVE THAT and am so very grateful for this provision for all mankind. It reminds me of all bird of the earth greeting each new day with song, thus encircling all with their songs of praise. So are our Sunday and Wednesday services.

  5. Why Am I grateful for Church? Let me count the ways.
    It was a second home for our family as our children were growing up. Attending church was the very foundation of our lives. Working together in church gave us the sense of community that enriched us. But most of all we knew that when we were supporting our local Christian Science Church we were giving to our Community. Our Church was a beacon of hope for all.

  6. I’m grateful for Church because without it I would find it too easy NOT to grow. Branch church work polishes us pebbles until we shine more. Sometimes it feels like the “constant pressure of the apostolic command to come out from the material world” (Science and Health) changes us as members from gritty sand particles into a unified rock on which to build.

    When newly married and far from home, Church was family, comfort, companionship, and sanctuary. Now I also see it as everything that rests on and proceeds from Principle, God.

  7. Why I am grateful for church? Sometimes when I have fallen a stray mentally from church because I do not want to do any more at the moment for church I fined when I turn to God he draws me closer to Him and my fellow man. Than I am grateful once again for church. Church has been a wonderful blessing in my life. Happy Thanksgiving Church Alive.

  8. So much of my progress, both spiritually and humanly have come through church and church activity. Praying for church is what led me into the full-time practice of Christian Science. And it’s through the worldwide activities of The Mother Church that Christian Science is reaching so many receptive hearts.

  9. I’m grateful for church services because they provide a time to enter the closet, shut the door to whatever disturbs us, and just glorify God. Church activities give opportunities to give a healing force to the world.

  10. Thank you for that wonderful question for all to answer!
    My years as a branch church and Mother Church member began just before I graduated from Sunday School. I loved teaching there before moving with a young family to the country where I joined another branch church. My children were blessed, so were we! Remembering one snow storm where I was collected for a Wed. night. Only 6 there so we sat in the front row. And, what wonderful testimonies given.

    My “home” experiences in church have taken me to another country where I am now enjoying my 7th membership. Love, support, being uplifted, healed and having companionship, have meant so much. Now my grandchildren attend, which means so much.

    Travelling to different countries over the years has enriched my sense of “church family” whether or not the service was in English or another language, we still have the weekly Bible Lesson-Sermon. We have read it, understand it and go to “hear the Word, ’spoken. Love is always there, friendship, a smile, a welcoming handshake. This is important to experience during at our business meetings, lectures and special events. Now over 50 years on, that excitement, joy, friendship and closeness still exists in being a member of a branch church and having the feeling of being “shepherded” by The Mother Church.

  11. I am deeply grateful for church because I do not feel judged there or have the inclination to judge others. I love that solutions to problems appear in my mind while I am listening. And we are all there supporting each other and seeing the best in each other. In my experience, this level of community, love, support and strength is only to be found in church. It is unique among human institutions.

  12. IT’S WONDERFUL TO FEEL AT HOME WHERE EVER YOU ARE. ONE TIME I NEEDED TO FIND LODGING FOR THE NIGHT AND DIDN’T KNOW MY WAY AROUND. THE CHURCH WHERE I WAS AT OFFERED FOR ME TO CAMP IN THEIR SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR THE NIGHT. IT WAS A LOVING WAY TO CAMP IN MY SLEEPING BAG FOR THAT NIGHT. HOW COMPLETE AND SAFE I FELT SURROUNDED BY LOVE AT MY TIME OF NEED. WITH GRATITUDE I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS OFFERING.

  13. I find Church such a strength. I have been able to feel that I would be able to tackle all sorts of jobs in the church which I never thought myself capable of, and this comes of learning more of our true being as the reflection of what God is really doing as us. We all support one another, and we needn’t be worried about being criticised if we get it wrong sometimes, but can be assured of spiritual support and loving kindness from other members. This has given me much more self-assurance in other areas of my life, knowing that the true selfhood of everyone is the one Ego-God reflected in every man. This brings harmony into our lives. The Church is my growing point, for which I am so grateful.

  14. I see human existence as rising from materialistic belief to spiritualized consciousness, and ultimately as rising out of matter altogether. Obviously, there is a lot of growing and stretching and letting go of mental habits involved in this! I see the demonstration of church — sometimes warm and embracing, sometimes uncomfortable and difficult — as a sort of express lane through the necessary experiences and demonstrations we each have to make. Church membership has taught me that church isn’t “about me”, it is about lifting each other up, and rising together. It isn’t really possible to “go it alone” and make the most progress in spiritual growth. Church is sometimes “tough love”, but it is love I return to again and again until I’ve perfected it and am ready for even higher demonstrations of love. The fact that church even exists and I have the privilege of being a part of it brings me to my knees in gratitude.

  15. As a new student of Christian Science I am so grateful for the church the welcome of home.

  16. I am most grateful for healing…our church is about healing, and Christian Science does heal. I am grateful for the presence of the Christ spirit, to uplift consciousness, fill our thoughts with love, showing us what God has already done. We are His beloved, and we know that. So many times I have experienced healings at a Wednesday testimony meeting, or during or after a Sunday service. Our church heals and I am grateful.

  17. It's the one place I can "be" when I can spend one hour clearly and purely hearing the Pastor speak without interruption.

    We hear so many mixed and confused messages each day. But when I attend church, I can completely trust that what I'm hearing is the truth --"unadulterated and unfettered by human hypotheses."

    It's the safest place on earth, and because the Pastor of our church is available to us 24/7, in consciousness, I can find safety wherever I go. (The Pastor in Christian Science is defined as the Bible and the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.)

    Also my reason for attending the services is because there's a strong power in praying together in one room with one focus --an eternally, ever-present good God.

    I've often been healed while attending a service --and I've ALWAYS left feeling better physically and mentally.

    This is why I'm grateful for church.

  18. The spread of C/S practice is more important now than ever in human history. Going to Church is like going to school, in that the practice of it is most interested in bringing people together regardless of religious and ethnic back grounds. The web sites help a lot, but what is needed most is understanding that C/S is not just another religion with secular rules, but a sincere movement to gather all human beings as products of the same God. It is based on practice and demonstration.

  19. What do I love about church? Testimonies, hearing how people use Christian Science and telling how it meets my needs, including life itself. Christian Scientists are my family beyond family. As my daughter said after visiting Principia Upper School, "I can say anything I want, discuss what I am thinking." Church reminds me that I can pray about anything. The more I put into reading the lesson or preparing readings the more I understand Christian Science and demonstrate it. The Bible and Science and Health address every modern topic. The readings bring healing. Ushers, musicians the board of directors, those in attendance, and testifiers all support the service. In turn we pray for Christian Scientists everywhere and for our congregation.

  20. I am so grateful for church because it gives me an opportunity to give as well as receive. Serving the church in whatever capacity brings much joy and inspiration and enables me to grow spiritually. Attending Services and Testimony Meetings gives one the opportunity to share and to enjoy hearing how others have demonstrated the power of the Christ, Science, which uplifts and encourages me when I might be feeling down. I love the sense of family, all being of one Mind. Singing the hymns always brings sense of joy. I am grateful that the Wednesday readings, which so often address topical issues and help to lift one's thought away from the false beliefs which come via the media. Praying in unison also brings a sense of oneness, togetherness.I am grateful for Mrs Eddy's definition of Church in the Glossary which shows us that church is not a building but "the structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle." p.583 S&H

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